For the last several weeks Ginghamsburg Church has been exploring what it means to know the presence of God while you are in the "middle of it." As the church finished up the series this weekend I began to think about the context of marriage while under the stress of the whatever the "middle of it" is for you.
First thing I realized is that there are two types of marital stress; internal and external. Internal stress is something that is caused by the relationship itself. An example of internal stress is infidelity, lack of relationship skills, or a loss of commitment to the marital vows. External stress is something that applies pressure to the marriage from outside of the context of the relationship. Job loss, money issues, and kids are all examples of external stress. Just know that over time external stress has a profound way of becoming internal stress if not dealt with (for example - money issues unresolved can quickly become a crack in the relationship).
For the sake of today's blog we are going to talk about external stress and give some practical steps to keep your relationship strong when you are "in the middle of it."
There are three very simple things I try to remember to do with my spouse whenever I feel like the world is caving in around me.
- Date. There is something incredibly soothing about dating your spouse. No matter what the stress in my life is, we always seem to reconnect when I remember to take my wife out on a date. After all, it's hard not to feel hopeful after spending a night out with a beautiful woman. Try not to talk about the stress and just be in the moment.
- Communicate. Be intentional about telling your spouse how you are feeling about the stress in your life. Invite your spouse to sit in the mud puddle with you. Also, feel free to remind your partner that you don't need them to fix it, but rather just to listen (wives, you may need to remind your husband of that more than once).
- Pray. When I say pray, what I really mean is for you to pray out loud while holding hands. There is something incredibly vulnerable, intimate, and life changing about praying with your spouse. Giving your "in the middle of it" stress to God is one thing, but doing it in front of your spouse is something completely different. The Holy Spirit shows up in ways I can't begin to describe.
One thing that all of this does is to help me remember that we are on the same team. Marriage is hard enough as it is, don't make it even more difficult by not including your biggest ally while you are "in the middle of it."
What do you and your spouse do when you are "in the middle of it"?